Josh McDaniels loathes moral victories. Say what you will about the Las Vegas Raiders head coach — plenty can be said, of course — but he isn’t one to hang is hat on playing well if the end result is a loss.
The Monday after was the 10th defeat of his first year as the captain of the Silver & Black ship. His Raiders put up a valiant effort behind new starting quarterback Jarrett Stidham on Sunday against the visiting San Francisco 49ers, however, McDaniels’ squad fell 37-34 in overtime.
Anytime a team loses via field goal in extra stanzas, plenty went wrong. For Las Vegas, it’s no different. For much of the game, Stidham had McDaniels’ offense humming against a superior 49ers defense — the league’s best. But there were small windows win the Niners disrupted the Raiders just enough. Like Stidham’s first interception, a result of a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage that fell into the eager hands of a 49ers defensive lineman. Or the second, the game-altering interception in overtime that saw Las Vegas left tackle Kolton Miller getting escorted right into Stidham’s lap to change the trajectory of the throw.
Stidham apologized to his teammates after his performance and said he needs to do better. Ditto for Miller, who looked supremely dejected during locker room availability. McDaniels appreciated both players being accountable for their actions, however, the Raiders head coach isn’t keen on finger pointing, either.
“Yeah, I think accountability is a good thing. Like I said, we never point fingers, we never place blame. We win and lose as a team. They all know that,” McDaniels said. “They heard it from me yesterday. They’re going to hear from me again today. And so, I think that’s really what yesterday was a good example of – there was plenty of good plays, a lot of good plays in many cases, in Kolton’s case and Jarrett’s case. And then there’s some plays where you say, ‘Man, I wish I could have changed the outcome or did something a little differently.’ That’s football.”
“I think, to me, I think what you see now is a group of guys that they want to win,” McDaniels continued. “They’re willing to stand up and say, ‘Hey, I didn’t do a good enough job on that play.’ That’s a great trait to have as a human being and not just a football player. And so, I think that accountability is hopefully what we are building our culture on. Everybody accountable to the others in the locker room. And I hope it carries over into the offseason.”
Las Vegas is 6-10 overall in a faceplant of a 2022 season with one more game to go before the offseason — against the incoming AFC West-leading and monster Kansas City Chiefs. Considering how easily Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers offense cut through the Raiders defense like a hot knife through butter, it’s safe to assume Andy Reid and his hard-charging Chiefs can do the same.
While McDaniels offense racked up 500 total yards of offense against the No. 1-ranked 49ers defense, Graham’s defense yielded 454 total yards to Shanahan’s 49ers offense. A shootout-style tilt against the Chiefs — even within the confines of Allegiant Stadium — likely tilts in Kansas City’s favor, especially considering its gunning for home field advantage in the playoffs.